Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Nouns are an integral part of the English language, and as such they come in various forms. It takes 3 levels of ESL to learn about the different types of nouns, and in ESLAO we cover the majority of them.
For this lesson we'll start by covering the very basics of "what is a noun?" As far as ESLAO is concerned, a noun is a person, animal, place, or thing. For example: student, dog, school, or table. These nouns can be general or specific. I like teaching those two words early because they come up many times during the course of ESL, and it makes teaching concepts a lot easier.
When I say, "I like students," that is a general statement; it means that I like all students. If I want to make my statement more specific, then I can use an article ("a", "an", "the"). "I like a student," means I only like one student, but you don't know who. "I like the student," (pointing to one student) means I only like one student, and you know who it is. These are specific statements. To make it even more specific, we can use a proper noun- names. "I like Jiseon," means that I only like the student named Jiseon.
I like to use this quiz from All Things Gramamr as a "diagnostic" to see which aspects of articles I need to explain.
This is a perfect basis for teaching nouns because usually students will have a similar concept in their language which will allow for language transference.
There're an innumerable amount of nouns in the English language, so for the activity part of my lesson plan I like to play the game Scattergories with a little bit of a class warm-up first. The intent of this activity is to get the students thinking about different types of nouns, as well as building their vocabulary.
For the class warm-up, I like to project the alphabet onto the board and go around the class with each student naming a noun for each subsequent letter, and declaring if that noun is a person, animal, place, thing, or animal. This will ensure that everyone understands nouns and put them in the right headspace for the game of Scattergories.
If you dont know what the game Scattergories is, it's a popular game where you are given a list of 12 different categories (ex. actors, cities, 4 letter words, etc.) and one randomly selected letter. In 5 minutes you must come up with a noun that fits each category, and they must all start with the same selected letter. You can't use the same noun multiple times, even if it fits multiple catergories. After the time is up, you are awarded 1 point for each correct noun. If someone else has the same answer as you though, the answers cancel each other out and no one gets the point. This helps reward creativity.
The students will write their answers for the first list in the first Scattergories box.
Depending on the skill level of the class, I will assign 2-3 students and let them use either dictionaries or their cell phones. Even with the additional resources, they don't always get a noun for each category, so don't worry about it being too easy. For the catergory lists that I provide, I suggest using easy letters such as B, C, D, F, H, L, M, R, S, T, etc.
This lesson is quite fun, so be sure to try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes!